Neil Harris left South London with a hard earned point in his first game in charge of Cardiff, despite his side being down two-nil at half-time.
The Addicks were seemingly cruising at the break through goals from Connor Gallagher and Jonathan Leko.
The Bluebirds looked to have ruined their opportunity to get back into the game as Junior Hoilett’s poor penalty was saved by Dillon Phillips, but minutes later they were back in contention as Nathanial Mendez-Laing fired home from close-range, before Lee Tomlin came off the bench to equalise.
Charlton controlled the opening exchanges of the game, but it was Cardiff who should have been ahead on the 11th minute when some tremedous foot-work from Mendez-Laing seen him beat three Charlton defenders, before his cut-back for Callum Paterson was put into the side-netting.
The Addicks took the lead two minutes later when they broke at pace with Macauley Bonne leading the charge. The striker made his way into the box after getting past two Cardiff defenders before laying it up for Jonathan Leko and his miss-hit shot ended up teeing it up perfectly for the on-running Connor Gallagher to poke home past Neil Etheridge.
On the 22nd minute Paterson and Cardiff fans were claiming for a penalty when Gary Madine’s ball across the face of goal found the Scotsman, but Deji Oshilaja tracked back immensely to put in a perfectly timed challenge as Patterson was about to pull the trigger.
Madine had a chance himself when he headed Joe Bennett’s cross wide, but it was Charlton who doubled their lead.
After the Bluebirds lost possession in midfield, Erthun Oztumer picked up the ball and drove dangerously at the Cardiff defence before eventually slipping it through for Leko, who made no mistake as his powerful effort flew past Etheridge.
Neil Harris definitely got the reaction he asked for at half-time and his side were awarded an early second-half penalty after Paterson was pulled to the deck. Hoilett was handed responsibility, but his tame effort was saved by Dillon Phillips.
The Welsh side continued to pile on the pressure and pulled a goal back on the 52nd minute. After failing to clear a corner, the ball was sent back into the crowded penalty area and some poor defending from Charlton allowed Mendez-Laing to pounce on the loose ball and fire home.
The visitors were now having their best spell of the match and were only denied an equaliser by an outstanding save by Phillips as he kept out Leandro Bacuna’s effort which took a wicked deflection.
Harris made a game changing move as he brought on Omar Bogle and Lee Tomlin after 67 minutes and it was the former Bristol City man who made the difference just minutes after coming on. Joe Bennett found space on the left-hand side before pulling it back to the midfielder, who drilled a low effort past Phillips.
Both sides pushed for a winner, but a draw was probably fair result in the end.
Full Time- Charlton 2-2 Cardiff
Charlton manager Lee Bowyer
“It’s disappointing because you can’t be two goals up at home at half-time and come away with one point. For me, that’s not good enough.
“But, on the positive side, the players have given me everything and we haven’t been beaten against a good Cardiff side. Let’s not forget that they were in the Premier League last season. They’ve got some good players.
“I think we started a bit slowly, they were probably the better side until we scored, then we settled down, grew in confidence, started moving the ball better. We had to be patient because we’re a footballing side, we’re not someone that just goes from back to front, so yeah we had to be patient, but I thought we took control of the game.”
Cardiff City manager Neil Harris
“The second half was like a basketball game – end to end – and Charlton can play like that.
“It’s not how I want us to play – I want us to have more control and in the first half I thought we had huge control of the football, with some excellent passages of play and we got done on the counter attack twice.
“It’s certainly a learning process for us as a group but in the second half we were on the front foot and a lot more aggressive in our attempts and deservedly got a point.”
Well its fair to say that the long trek to London was well worth it. I was delighted to get The Valley ticked off my list as its a very nice ground and easy to access. The game itself was definitely one of the better games I’ve been to while on my travels. It was a very entertaining end-to-end game which could have easily had a couple more goals. The atmosphere was decent from both sets of fans also, especially Cardiff fans who had to travel a 300 mile round trip for a 12.30 kick off.
Charlton: Phillips, Oshilaja, Lockyer, Pearce (C), Matthews, Purrington, Gallagher, Cullen (Morgan 55’), Otzumer, Leko (Doughty 79’), Bonne
Subs not used: Maynard-Brewer, Solly, Sarr, Davison
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Bennett, Flint, Bacuna, Paterson (Vaulks 79’), Pack, Nelson, Mendez-Laing, Madine (Bogle 67’), Hoilett (Tomlin 67’)
Subs not used: Smithies, Morrison, Vaulks, Murphy, Coxe
Referee- Darren Bond
Assistants- Ian Cooper & Andrew Fox
Fourth Official- Charles Breakspear
Attendance- 16,011 (1,673 Cardiff)
Goals- Gallagher(13), Leko(42), Mendez-Laing(52), Tomlin(73)
Yellow Cards- Madine(58), Peltier(82), Tomlin(85), Bonne(90)
Red Cards- 0